Game of Thrones: what are the secrets behind the show’s fashion?
The most successful and expensive show of all time needs no introduction. HBO’s Game of Thrones returns to our screens on 16 July and I CANNOT wait! What better time to delve into the world of the Seven Kingdoms and its fashion?!
(It’ll be 17 July by the time I’ve watched episode one here in the UK! And if you aren’t up to date with the show – there may be spoilers, so read with caution)
The intricate costumes themselves tell a story and it’s that attention to detail that has won the Game of Thrones lead costume designer, Michele Clapton, two Emmy awards for Best Costume and been nominated every single year the show has been running.
14 facts about the Game of Thrones costumes
The most expensive costume to make…
was Margaery’s ‘purple wedding’ dress. Each rose was hand-wrapped, the stems of which made of silver-plated cord and its thorns made of Czech glass.
The dress inspired by an Alexander McQueen piece was…
another of Margaery’s dresses – this one:
“Margaery’s funnel dress was obviously an homage to the wonderful Alexander McQueen’s costume for Bjork. It just felt right that this young ambitious girl would be experimenting with shapes, honing her style skills which we now see her employing to great effect. It was a risk and divided the audience.”
The two characters with the most costumes…
are Cersei, and no surprises, Margaery… That woman must have an amazing wardrobe collection!
99% of the costumes were made in-house in Belfast
Armour and costume are 99 percent made in-house, and we have a wonderful range of artisans: leather workers, dyers, metal workers, cutters, printers, and embroiderers.
One episode requires up to 700 individual costumes!
PETA got well annoyed at the show’s use of fur
Animal rights organisation PETA got in touch with the producers when the show launched to object over the costume designer’s use of fur. However, new fur pieces were never commissioned by Michele Clapton, so instead, the team scoured markets for vintage fur.
And some of the actors refused to wear real fur…
So, where possible, they always tried to make some pieces in fake fur.
The costumes aren’t always true to the books
Michele had one meeting with George RR Martin, but from then on, pretty much had her own reign over the designs. The costumes do not follow the representation in the books necessarily, because they reflect the path of the TV’s storyline, the characters’ journeys. The costumes also had to remain consistent with the style of clothing that was created for each of the locations within Westeros and Essos, so the viewers know which area they are in straight away.
Tommen rarely wore red…
Whereas Joffrey predominantly wore the sigil colour of House Lannister and after Joffrey’s death, Tommen never wore red again. This is very telling of the brothers’ characters – Joffrey had the sinister streak of the Lannisters, but timid Tommen wore orange and browns – the colours of the House Baratheon. Ironic.
It takes longer to create the destroyed and dirty costumes
“You spend two weeks breaking down, patching, dying, repatching. Then you trash it, age it, then trash it again and repair. You can’t just stick a couple of patches on it and spray it with dirt because that is exactly what It will look like on HD televisions. […] Depending on the climate and whether it’s armor or a women’s gown, it involves, oiling, sanding, oiling again, waxing, and pressing dirt colored pigment into it. After the actors have worn it a few days in the sun it gets even better – nice and ripe!”
– Michele Clapton
Why don’t they wear hats on the wall? Or up north in general? Look how cold it is up there!
Michele, the costume designer originally wanted them to wear hats, but the directors found that it hid the actors facial expressions and made it harder for viewers to distinguish between characters with their heads and faces covered – so, no hats! I guess Jon Snow’s hair is thick enough to keep his head warm enough anyway…
The Unsullied costumes were changed because they were too reminiscent of German WWI army uniforms
“The Unsullied costumes were the hardest to make. They were very specific in the book about having a spike on top of the helmet but it looked too German First World War so we had to change it. With a book people have built up an image of how they think characters should look and then I come along and don’t make it like it is in their heads”
The Wildling bones came from Ebay
Yes, Ebay! I also buy random shit from Ebay – I have something in common with an award-winning costume designer! #DreamsDoComeTrue
Sansa uses dressmaking as a form of expression
“She expresses herself through her ability to embroider and stitch”
From the first episodes, we know that Sansa makes and embroiders her own clothes. As her storyline progresses, so do her outfits. At the beginning of Sansa’s story in Winterfell, her clothes are simple and plain, when she herself was a simple, naive girl before she became the complex character she is now. As she moves to King’s Landing she tries to emulate Cersei’s fashion and play with different colours and stitching.
After she realises the true nature of the Lannisters, her clothing becomes more muted again and reverts to her Stark colours. Forced into an arranged marriage to Tyrion, the embroidery on her wedding dress follows her journey and represents her mixed emotions:
“Her story starts at her lower back where the Tully fish and Stark Direwolf entwine as we move round to the front the Lannister Lion is becoming dominant over the Direwolf and at the back neck the Lions head is stamped onto Sansa. The dress colour was still very much Sansa Stark and the embroidery had pale golden tones but woven through the story are ripe red pomegranates, the red colour symbolising the growing Lannister influence over her.”
– Michele Carragher, Game of Thrones Embroiderer
Sansa ready for battle and her return to Winterfell
I loved seeing Sansa riding on her horse back to Winterfell in the last episode of Season Six… Now, she’s self-assured and confident, so she’s dressed like the strong Stark woman that she’s become. Her dark velvet emerald green dress is the same shade her mother wore, emblazoned with the Stark Direwolf across her chest. Of the all the characters in the show, I think she has progressed the most and I can’t wait to see where Game of Thrones Season Seven takes her.
Winter is finally here… So I predict in Season Seven, the costumes will get even darker and steelier.
I hope you liked reading this post – I enjoyed researching it and learnt a lot. It’s definitely made me appreciate how important the costumes are and how much time and effort goes into them.
Do you think you’ll look more closely at the costumes this season? Let me know what you think is going to happen or if you have any cool GoT facts in the comments! 🙂
(Oh, if you’re wondering where the facts about Danaerys are, I’ll be doing a separate post for her next week. It’s what the Mother of Dragons deserves! So stay tuned)
Add some GoT pieces to your wardrobe!
*Images taken from Game of Thrones stills: rights belong to HBO.